There’s a good reason people use the term “gut instinct.” If cranial thinking sets us apart from the world, thinking in the belly joins us to it. If the cranial brain believes itself surrounded by a knowable world that can be controlled, the brain in our belly is in touch with the world’s mystery. The fact that the second brain has been discovered, forgotten, and rediscovered by medicine three times in the past century suggests how complicated our relationship with our bodily intelligence is.
New Self, New World, Recovering Our Senses in the Twenty-First Century by Philip Shepherd explores the implications of the little-known fact that we have two brains: in addition to the familiar cranial brain in the head, there is a “second brain” in the gut. This is not a metaphor. Scientists recognize the web of neurons lining the gastrointestinal tract as an independent brain, and a new field of medicine — neurogastroenterology — has been created to study it.
Years ago before I became a family counsellor I studied the Feldenkrais Method. Through this awareness through movement practice I became very aware of the strong connection between our brains and our gut instincts. This awareness forms a strong component in my psychotherapy practice.